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Press Release, 24th January 2024

Press Release, 24th January 2024

The London International Festival of Early Music, LIFEM, has announced the appointment of award-winning Dutch recorder virtuoso and musicologist Erik Bosgraaf as its new artistic director. Bosgraaf appeared as soloist and director with the Wrocław Baroque Orchestra at LIFEM in 2023, and this new long-term partnership will see him take control of the festival’s programming and creative agenda.

Held each November in Blackheath, LIFEM combines a unique mixture of concerts, masterclasses, talks and competitions around a three-day exhibition of instruments by leading makers from around the world. The festival celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023 and the 2024 edition will take place between 13-16th November at Blackheath Concert Halls and the church of St Michael & All Angels.

Festival director Chris Butler says: “LIFEM goes from strength the strength and we are absolutely delighted to have secured Erik as our new AD as the festival continues to grow in scope and influence.”

Erik Bosgraaf says: “I think LIFEM is a gem, bringing together lovers of early music. I look forward to strengthening its artistic profile, providing an irresistible programme at the highest possible international level.”

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Notes to Editors

Erik Bosgraaf – Artistic Director

Erik Bosgraaf is generally considered to be one of the world’s leading recorder players, and he is definitely the most adventurous. He improvises, plays jazz, utilizes electronics and likes working with people in other areas of artistic endeavour such as cinematography (Werner Herzog, Paul and Menno de Nooijer). His repertoire extends from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to tomorrow’s music. Bosgraaf’s recording of Jacob van Eyck’s Der Fluyten Lust-hof set a new standard and led to his international breakthrough. Many other hits followed, mainly for the Brilliant Classics label. Around 100 pieces have been composed for him, among which are 12 concertos. In 2011, Pierre Boulez gave him permission to adapt his clarinet composition Dialogue de l’ombre double for the recorder. The world premiere of this new version took place in the sold-out main auditorium of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw; the CD was recorded in 2015. Arvo Pärt allowed him to perform a concertante recorder version of Fratres, which had its world premiere in the composer’s hometown of Tallinn.

Bosgraaf made his USA debut at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jaap van Zweden, who immediately invited him to his other orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, telling him: “There you can lead the orchestra yourself” (which he did, to great acclaim). Since then, he is regularly invited as a conductor. If not playing the recorder, he leads from the harpsichord or in classical and later repertoire for chamber orchestra conducts from the front. Bosgraaf has worked with the Residentie Orkest The Hague, Melbourne Symphony, Dutch Radio Philharmonic, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, the Hungarian Radio Orchestra, Duisburger Philharmoniker, and the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, among others. In 2021 Concerto Köln accompanied him on his solo debut at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie. On 22 October 2023 he will be soloist at the Barbican with the BBC Symphony Orchestra cond. by Ilan Volkov, performing the Origami Songs that Anna Meredith composed for him.

In the summer of 2023 he appeared at the prestigious Boston Early Music Festival, the International Handel Festival in Göttingen, Germany and the London International Festival of Early Music. Bosgraaf is a visiting professor at the Cracow Music Academy (Poland), Amsterdam Conservatoire (Netherlands) and Tsing Hua University (Taiwan), and gives masterclasses all over the world. He received the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2009, and the Netherlands Music Prize in 2011.

Chris Butler – Festival Director

Chris Butler is a career music publisher who holds multiple directorships. He is a past chairman of the UK Music Publishers’ Association, MCPS and ICMP, and was a Director of the Performing Right Society for over 20 years. He is a trustee of the PRS Foundation. Chris Butler acquired The Early Music Shop, LIFEM’s principal supporter, in 2018 and created LIFEM as a CIO in 2020.